The current Treasury of Amiens Cathedral consists of many historically and artistically significant works. However, it only partly reflects the splendour of the Treasury under the old regime. Even though most of the objects have long disappeared, they are mentioned in several preserved ancient inventories that help us realise the extent of the cathedral’s former monetary reserves.
In 1206, the Treasury was given a relic of St John the Baptist, brought back from Constantinople after the Fourth Crusade by a canon from Picardy, Wallon de Sarton. This relic generated many donations from pilgrims, becoming a large source of revenue that helped increase the Treasury.
During the French Revolution, many of the riches described in those ancient inventories were lost. While devotees were able to hide some of the most precious relics, only a handful of small reliquaries without much monetary value were spared from being melted down. The Treasury started to regain some of its riches at the turn of the 19th century, through bequests from canons and bishops as well as some purchases, steadily building the collection that we can still admire today.
The donation from the Duke of Norfolk around 1850 remains one of the most notable contributions: a ciborium and a large shrine from the 13th century containing the relics of St Firmin. The gifts from the ladies of Ainval de Brache in 1856, whose great-aunt was the last abbess of the Paraclet Abbey, also deserve an honourable mention: the reliquary crown, cross and vase, stunning pieces of medieval art, which had until then been stored at the Abbey.
These relics come to represent the collection and their regular loans and media coverage bring new notoriety to the Amiens Treasury. The Act of 1913 further increases the Treasury by enabling communes to deposit their precious objects.
Still located in the small sacristy built by the French architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, the Treasury underwent several renovations throughout the 20th century, mainly to ensure the safety of this invaluable collection. For example, a safe was built there in 1929 that still contains a precious window. Since 2009, after a 15-year interruption, the Treasury is open once again to the public through guided tours. The digitisation of the 107-piece corpis in 2D, including the nine most representative pieces in interactive 3D, will enable greater access to this fabulous collection.